Mmm! Smart Food
How would you feel about eating a steady diet of frozen foods to improve your health? Well, that's what Campbell Soup wanted you to do when it cooked up a line of mostly frozen meals designed to reduce certain health risks such as heart disease and diabetes. Campbell introduced the product line, calling it Intelligent Quisine (IQ), in an Ohio test market in January 1997.
How IQ made it to the test market is an interesting story. In 1991, Campbell realized the soup market was mature and offered very little growth potential. As a result, the company began to beef up its research and development (R&D) efforts, devoting about 1 percent of sales to R&D. A senior vice president noted that the company's R&D efforts were guided by two objectives: "stay with the customer" and "focus on big opportunities."
While exploring diversification ideas related to its core business, CEO David W. Johnson stumbled onto the idea of "introducing the first and only meal program clinically proven to help people reduce cholesterol, blood pressure, and blood sugar." Johnson saw an explosive market potential for "functional food"—food that tasted good, was good for you, and was as effective therapeutically as a drug. Observers dubbed this type of food "nutraceuticals." Campbell thought it could offer a convenient meal program to a target market of 60 million people who suffered from a wide range of health problems like high cholesterol, high blood pressure, and hypertension. That number actually grew to 100 million when people who were at risk of getting these problems were factored in. In addition, research showed that 52 percent of the population believed food products could help reduce cancer and disease.
The company then spent two years gathering a medical advisory board that included specialists in heart disease, nutrition, and diabetes. The board also included representatives from...